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Pirate Radio Stations Challenge Feds 348

Thundgelmir writes "Yahoo news has an article about how pirate radio is taking on the FCC. It describes the growing trend of low-power FM stations, and their crusade to be heard across the country and around the internet." From the article: "Over four days, a dozen men and women shyly bumped shoulders as they studied schematics and tinkered with romex connectors, resistors, microphone cords, meters, sockets and capacitors — the stuff of illegal radio stations. 'We're not stealing anything. We're claiming something that's rightfully ours,' he says. His goal is to create FM radio stations faster than the FCC can shut them down ... 'It's always been our position that if enough people go on the air with their stations, the FCC will be overwhelmed and unable to respond.'"
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Pirate Radio Stations Challenge Feds

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  • why (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikesd81 ( 518581 ) <mikesd1NO@SPAMverizon.net> on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:52AM (#16182209) Homepage
    Some laws that are in place do make sense. The FCC rules for broadcasting are in place for safety actually. Granted, a pirate radio station probaly won't bring down an airline, but what if it does interfere with radio transmissions in the ambulance and 911 when the operator is trying to say got left on Pine and all you here is salsa music? That's a potential hazard. There are better ways to make statements now than broadcasting over a pirated radio broadcast.
  • by demondawn ( 840015 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:58AM (#16182247) Journal
    it is difficult to know what side (if any!) to take on this story. There's no inherent "funny" comment that pops to mind, no well-worn slashdot joke...this is about a very fundamental thing (who "owns" the airwaves) and I think a lot of people on slashdot, and even elsewhere, don't really have an opinion on it. Do we support what is basically anarchy on the airwaves (which, according to the article, could be even hazardous to our personal saftey, though I imagine that's at least a little hyperbole)? Do we support the underpaid, overworked people of the FCC? (So where did all the money from those fines go?) A lot of questions, and at least in my mind, no ready answers.
  • It is ours (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:00AM (#16182263)
    It is well beyond doubt that the FCC needs to be changed and the media ownership laws addressed. It is also obvious that the frequency spectrum needs to be regulated however; even a brief look at how the FCC is acting for the benefit of corporations should signal that change needs to happen.

    There are numerous examples to the corrupt nature of the FCC; one of the most recent was the fact that the FCC had reports destroyed that directly contradicted the actions they have taken on behalf to their corporate masters.

    The airwaves belong to the people and should be run to the benefit of the people. Obviously our government is not acting as it should in many areas, the issue is, how to affect change? With only a single political party in the US, I doubt voting helps.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:18AM (#16182367)
    Well, here in Poland we used to have resistors pinned into the clothes as the sign of resistance against the Soviet Union-sponsored government oppression. And the people caught wearing them were prosecuted.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:27AM (#16182399) Homepage
    The United States in unique in that the law explicitely states that the EM spectrum is the property of the American public. (This has been the law for almost a century, infact -- I think it goes all the way back to the 1912 Radio Act) Because it is a shared resource, however, the government issues licenses to use the spectrum. However, "moneyed interests" (corporations - especially clearchannel) dominate the landscape and the FCC does whatever the want, typically shafting the consumer in te process. The Communications Act of 1996 exacerbated the situation, because it removed rules governing how much of the spectrum one company could gobble up. So if these radio pirates are going to challenge the extremely corrupt FCC establishment, I say more power to them.
  • Re:why (Score:2, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Monday September 25, 2006 @04:40AM (#16182459)
    Granted, a pirate radio station probaly won't bring down an airline, but what if it does interfere with radio transmissions in the ambulance and 911 when the operator is trying to say got left on Pine and all you here is salsa music? That's a potential hazard.

    Well if we are to list every "potential hazard" what about falling towers, tooth decay, and that demon rum?

    Seriously, who would these people be talking to on emergency vehicle frequencies? Just how many households have their household FM radio's tuned to the local ambulance company?

    They won't be broadcasting there. They want to be heard by someone other than the Police for crying out loud!.

    You can already get a hobby AM/FM license for very small wattage for no money to speak of, and be assigned a legitimate and reserved frequency. Hobby stations are fairly common in big cities.

    This story is about the last gasp of a bunch of hippies from the 60's who have not heard about the internet, where they can blog to their heart's content.

    Oh, wait, no one would read them would they....

  • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot...kadin@@@xoxy...net> on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:04AM (#16182591) Homepage Journal
    Great idea.

    Let's see, we'll set aside a band, for random people to use. I wonder what we should call it. The Anonymous Coward Band? How about the Taxpayer Band?

    I've got it -- we'll call it the Citizen's Band!

    Okay, okay; I know it's slightly different. Technically the rules on C.B. prohibit broadcasting; it's supposed to be for two-way communication. But the idea is basically the same. The equipment to transmit and receive is widely available, and quite cheap.

    However, I doubt that the Pirate Radio people would be happy with this, because they're not just looking for spectrum, they want an audience. Basically, they want spectrum on a band which everyone already has receivers for, because that's the only way they're ever going to get people to listen to them.

  • by NRAdude ( 166969 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:15AM (#16182641) Homepage Journal
    I do not Trust that FCC with my precious voice above my head and within reach of my yodling or echo of word about me.

    The matter is not about fighting "the Man." The matter is about fighting a portrait drawn by the Man depicting his five-horned tentacle-monster grasping onto anime-style radio waves to move above unsuspecting people. I'm not going to rub you maliciously on this, but consider that the verry nature of words uttered from a creature or the mouth of a Man; they are the living radio propogation emitted, and discernable from our ears. The FCC is unlawfully moving its officers outside of a foreign state known as Columbia and actively regulating the matters of neighboring States that have no benefit from said services.

    What none comprehend is that the Man is being blessed by his fellows, while the corporation inks curse after curse onto a man by assistance of its brain-washed pastafarian followers that have accepted its Oath and concealed Bond. The FCC is profitting from the sale of radio-wave bandwidth or spectrum to corporations, and is profitting after having no improvement other than the benefit of being regulated and the Code conferred upon the assets of the corporations particular as of Certifications welcoming customers for the mere suggestion of honor. It's not the radio-waves that should be regulated, but the movement of information determined a more dynamic course. Radio-waves are nothing more than noise or sound polution that we can't hear, but effects us in subtle ways; consider that every particle in our body has a resonant frequency and can be disrupted by the harmonious transmittal of a neighboring Horn or antennae: it's the same result of a vocalist that can shatter glass when the same resonant frequency is tuned.

    Federal Communication Commision is neithe federal and is neither commisioned by anyone. Who agreed to pledge their radio spectrum above them and their property to an agent/corporation of a foreign principality in a far-off country? I don't mean to rub it in still, but if a Californian has any allegiance to an entity in Columbia then he is not an American; he is a USian, as per the 14th Amendment instituted by a corporation known as (singular) "United States."

    The Man is idolatrous. Corporations are created by the work of a man to paper, and the corporations exist only on paper; they are combustible. Burn it, but there will always be those strangers wanting to enforced their opinions on their neighbors, by use of mass rule (fascism, by defenition) and not love. Most of America is empty, because everyone's got their Head cut-off and stuffed deep in a baskette in Washington District of Columbia, while the trade-off is to lose everyone's Head of State in exchange for the knowledge and reasoning of that mythical 5-horned (transmitting) tentacle monster.

    Did you not read the Constitution of the District of Columbia, to know that is claimed all radio wave propogation and speach and transmittals above and within Columbia, without said FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISION? Get a grip on realty, to know the different between a territory and a state, an officer from a magistrate and justice.

  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by z0idberg ( 888892 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:30AM (#16182701)
    Aren't property boundaries artificially created and implemented and enforced by a government agency as well? A block of land is merely a lump of dirt in a certain area of space/time, but putting up a fence around it and saying I am using it and that I have a right to it doesn't make it mine. Who owns it and where its boundaries lie is looked after by a central body just as the FM frequecies are.
  • FCC Mandate (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot...kadin@@@xoxy...net> on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:37AM (#16182741) Homepage Journal
    This is actually a fairly interesting question.

    From today's perspective, where we look at the EM spectrum and see that the majority of it is really suited more for short-range communication than anything else, it seems like something that ought to be regulated at least in part by the states.

    However, the authority of the FCC comes from the Communications Act of 1934, and its predecessor agency from the Radio Act of 1927, which were drafted in a time when most of the radio spectrum in use was down in the HF bands, which travel hundreds or thousands of miles and thus require widespread regulatory authority. From this authority -- which began due to a need to keep civilian transmissions from interfering with maritime wireless service -- they simply continued to regulate as frequencies grew higher and higher, and transmission distances shorter and shorter, until the FCC frequently has a say in things in which there is little or no business for Federal regulation.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FormOfActionBanana ( 966779 ) <slashdot2@douglasheld.net> on Monday September 25, 2006 @05:38AM (#16182745) Homepage
    the realist in me says the FCC is chasing them because commercial radio pushes them to.

    The FCC does exist for a good reason. The radio space within the US is something that is owned by the people of the United States. The rules that are in place are to protect the masses from having that resource rendered unusuable to them. Citizens' Band ("CB") was established so that individuals could express whatever they wanted on their spectrum.

    The commercial radio stations that play music we don't like, and shove commercials down the ears of listeners, AND screw payola out of artists... also do pay their licensing fees to the people of the United States.

    What you let your government spend the money on is another matter entirely.

  • Monopoly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turbofisk ( 602472 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:02AM (#16182849)
    During the sixties it brought down the state monopoly that only had old chums debating on the airwaves. It brought music to the airwaves. Not so bad for arr pirate!
  • The FCC? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:26AM (#16182939)
    Our poor overworked FCC? Don't they already have enough work keeping us save from boobies and badbadbad words on TV? Now they also gotta take up the fight over frequencies?

    Hey... wait... actually, THAT would be their job, not content censoring...
  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fatboy ( 6851 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:59AM (#16183059)
    Did Edwin Armstrong [wikipedia.org] need a license?

    Yes, he did.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shawngarringer ( 906569 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @08:22AM (#16183551)
    Technically, its a license to put "stuff" (in this case electromagnetism) into the air around you. I think of it more like polution, which can be regulated.

    I understand the need to regulate broadcast band also, because if you don't it just becomes one huge mess of people transmitting and effectively becomes useless... but the license fees should be a scale that rewards community ownership and local "stuff" as opposed to saying, it costs 10,000$ to apply. That prices out all but the big-boys from playing.

    Now, don't get me started on how DirecTV / Dish Network saturate my house with their signal, but if I decide to try to pick that up (IE: breathe it in), they can sue me.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @08:51AM (#16183823) Homepage
    Problem is that most "pirate" stations are put together by insane nutknobs that do not take a few minutes and dollars to make it right.

    Here are some tips if you want your pirare radio station to not get turned in.

    1 - plop the station on top of another one... Retarted. the megawatt station will kick you hard, so you get to annoy only a 5 block radius if you are lucky and far away from the station.

    2 - use that $29.99 10 watt transmitter kit off ebay. Can you say splatter? your signal sucks and is splattering all over the band and probably into the avaiation bands. Nothing like that to get the FCC and FAA attention.

    3 - do the transmitter right but overdeviate all over the place. Limiter and compressor is REQUIRED. as you scream your rants into the microphone you gotta make sure to not over deviate.

    4 - spew hard profanity 24-7. Nothing will get you off the air faster than playing all the fowl mouthed 13 year old boy music out there, or screaming FUCK over and over and over again in the microphone. Someone will hear you, not like it and report you. Profanity on the airwaves is more of an issue to the FCC than you not being licensed.

    sadly most pirate radio violates every one of those points.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zigurd ( 3528 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @09:25AM (#16184173) Homepage
    Is there any actual evidence that pirate FM broadcasters cause chaos?

    Or are they more like squatters, living in the otherwise unoccupied parts of the spectrum? And if they are like squatters, how do you measure the harm they cause? Do they, in fact, cause any harm at all?
  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @10:14AM (#16184709) Journal
    "Is there any actual evidence that pirate FM broadcasters cause chaos?"

    In FM, probably, but it'd be minor. OTOH, in 1912 there was ample evidence, which is why the FCC was established in the first place: It was said that distress signals from RMS Titanic were stepped-on, garbled, and the transmission of events surrounding the ship's sinking were tough to pass around via radio because there were so many people stepping all over the frequencies. Not sure of the whole story though, so take it as you will.


  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @11:02AM (#16185447) Homepage
    Not sure if they're still operating, but we have a pirate radio station operating in the Quad-Cities Area on the Mississippi.

    Basically their position is that federal regulations state they are able to operate a radio station without license during wartime.
  • Re:Dupe. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @01:06PM (#16187213) Journal
    Go ahead and try to "petition" the government, see how far you get, by yourself. The government is nothing but an illusion. The only government I truly "own" is myself.

    FWIW, I am not an "anarchist" in the sense of chaos and bedlam, but rather libertarian, as in be responsible for yourself and leave me the heck alone, and I'll do likewise.
  • Re:Rights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @03:33PM (#16189553)
    It was said that distress signals from RMS Titanic were stepped-on, garbled, and the transmission of events surrounding the ship's sinking were tough to pass around via radio because there were so many people stepping all over the frequencies. Not sure of the whole story though, so take it as you will.

    Sounds like FUD to me. The Titanic was still a long way from civilization (somewhere south of Newfoundland, which is pretty far east of any big cities). Any stepping on would've been done by the other ship operators in the nearby ocean. How chatty were ship's wireless operators back then? How many ships would've been within a few hundred miles?

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford